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AgJobs Bill Reintroduced in Congress: Provides Immigration Reform for Agriculture Workers

WASHINGTON, DC - A bill that would create immigration reform specifically for agriculture workers was reintroduced in Congress by Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California and Republican Sen. Larry Craig of Idaho.

The “Agriculture Job Opportunity, Benefits, and Security Act of 2007,” known as the AgJobs bill, would amend the current application process and replace it with an expedited process to hire foreign workers in the H-2A category, which is where agricultural workers in the horse industry fall.

The AgJobs bill would also create a pilot “blue card” program for undocumented agriculture workers, giving them the opportunity to demonstrate previous employment in American agriculture and achieve temporary legal resident status.

“The issue of comprehensive immigration and guest worker reform is very important to all segments of the horse industry,” said Jay Hickey, president of the American Horse Council (AHC). “Horse breeders, ranchers and farms depend on seasonal foreign workers to fill labor demands not met by American workers. This bill would solve a lot of the problems our industry has in employing legal foreign workers.”

This AgJobs bill is the same bill that the Senate passed in the last Congress as part of the comprehensive immigration reform bill. It is supported by a broad coalition of agricultural industries - including the AHC, worker advocates and religious, public interest and taxpayer groups.

Among the other key H-2A reforms included in the bill are a freeze and eventual elimination of the Adverse Effect Wage Rate, a mechanism for replacing alien workers who leave or are terminated for cause and a secure identity and work authorization document for H-2A aliens.

This bill satisfies most of the concerns of the horse industry, particularly with respect to the application process and the “regularization” of current workers who may not have work authorization.

The earned status adjustment program provides a transition solution for undocumented workers to earn legal status and avoid the need for a large importation of guest workers and a disruption to industry practices.

To learn more about the AgJobs bill as a part of comprehensive immigration reform, please visit the AHC web site at http://www.horsecouncil.org.


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